CBS Releases Leslie Moonves’ Full Response to TWC’s A La Carte Proposal

Les Moonves CBS Upfront
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

CBS has released the full letter CEO Les Moonves wrote to Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt, in which Moonves calls the TWC a la carte proposal an “empty gesture” meant to “muddy the water and confuse the public discussion.”

Read the full letter below:

Dear Glenn:

I was surprised to get your letter yesterday, particularly since I hadn’t spoken to you in more than a week. Come to think of it, you haven’t reached out to me personally, as I have to you on more than one occasion, even once during this entire matter, so your communication was both unexpected and welcome. The fact that you released it simultaneously to the media, however, dampened my enthusiasm somewhat. It made me suspect that the document was not, as I hoped, a sincere offer but rather a public relations gesture of some kind. Sadly, my suspicions were more than justified. I was also surprised and disappointed when your incoming CEO, when asked by CNBC whether we had responded to yourlengthy letter, said, “I am not aware of CBS having made a counterproposal or responded to our proposal in any way.” I found this rather dishonest. After all, we had received your communication along with the press not five minutes before airtime, as he surely must have known.

Nevertheless, I welcome this opportunity to respond to your “offer,” and to run down some other specious arguments you have made that require clarification and correction.

First, after reviewing your letter, we have concluded that there is not a sincere or helpful proposal in it. It is, rather, a well-wrought distraction. Let me remind you, Glenn, that you have in your possession more than 100 pages of our actual proposal, with economics, terms and rights agreements contained for CBS, Showtime and all the content vehicles under discussion. You had them well before you dropped our programming from your service. We have never received a mark-up or reply to anything contained in them. Last Friday, in spite of the fact
that we had offered a one-week extension to remain on the air while we continued our discussions, you chose to take us off the air. Why? Because, as your new CEO stated, Time Warner Cable would “have more leverage” with CBS off the air and our viewers deprived of our programming. Since that night, Friday at 5:00 PM, we have not heard from anybody at Time Warner Cable to discuss anything at all, in spite of your public statements to the contrary. Until, of course, your public letter masquerading as a private one.

That’s not negotiating. That’s grandstanding.

As to your groundbreaking “offer” to go a la carte: Anyone familiar with the entertainment business knows that this is an empty gesture. The economics and structure of the cable industry have created a certain way that content is distributed and compensated. We both know that a true a la carte universe is not one that Time Warner Cable welcomes.

In fact, if you thought it was a good idea, why aren’t you offering your new, multi-billion-dollar Lakers and Dodgers channels to your subscribers in Los Angeles on an a la carte basis? Instead, your subscribers in Los Angeles are already being charged in the neighborhood of $4.00 for the Lakers and likely more than that for the Dodgers – both of which you have pulled off broadcast television entirely. These charges are added to the cost of your customers’ basic monthly bill whether they want them or not. At the same time, you find it impossible to pay far, far less than that for the network that brings your viewers the NFL, the PGA Championship, the Masters, the NCAA Basketball tournament, SEC Football, plus 60 Minutes, NCIS, The Big Bang Theory, Under the Dome, David Letterman, the Grammys, and so much more.

We view your so-called proposal, then, as nothing more than an attempt to muddy the water and confuse the public discussion.

Are you really so reluctant to come to the same kind of agreement that we have struck – without incident – with every other cable operator, telco and satellite provider? You already pay ten networks on your channel lineup more than you compensate CBS, all of which have far fewer viewers. What we are looking for, have always been looking for, is fair compensation for our content. CBS is the most popular programmer in the world. Showtime has content that is the most sought-after in the business. Why can’t you see your way clear to honestly paying
for what your customers value most?

Perhaps the most egregious portion of your letter was at the very top, where you “agree to resume carriage with the „new economics’” while “employing all the other terms and conditions of our recently expired contracts.” On the surface of it, that looks reasonable. But it’s not. Clever PR, perhaps, but not genuine negotiation. As I am sure you know, we have no “new economics” that are not intimately tied to new “terms and conditions.” Those terms and conditions, better known as rights, were established in 2008. That was before the introduction of the iPad. Netflix was still doing little but mailing out DVDs. Amazon was known simply for selling books. This doesn’t even begin to account for the new entrants now coming up the ramp who are interested in paying a fair price for the most desirable programming. What you are asking for, pure and simple, is either to gain the right to deliver content for free that others are paying for, or to inhibit CBS from licensing content to existing online competitors and new companies that are now emerging. I can understand why you might want to preserve your dominance in that venue, but bullying us into becoming your accomplice in that effort doesn’t seem fair. Again, what we are seeking with you is nothing more – or less – than a rights and conditions package that every other cable, satellite and telephone company has agreed to.

Rather than engaging in public posturing that achieves nothing but confusion and doesn’t move us one bit closer to our mutual goal, please return to the negotiating table and talk about the real issues that separate us. We will be there waiting and hopeful.

Leslie Moonves
President and Chief Executive Officer

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 5

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Diana Tull says:

    I don’t believe CBS or Time Warner, I think your both grandstanding and lets see who gets the money first. It’s the viewers that are paying for this. Shame on both of you.

  2. Beverly Tillman says:

    CBS has always been #1,you have never sacrificed your integrity or let any entity dictate to you.Thank you for standing your ground and know you are my hero today

  3. jamesjimcie says:

    Every Time Warner Cable customer should be ashamed of CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves for this blackout that result in the viewers from being able to watch their favorite shows with Time Warner Cable.

    This is an excuse for CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves wanting to try to be way too big being the Wal-Mart’s, the Marlboro’s, the Joe Camel’s, the Paramount Pictures with the movie theater chain of the 1940’s, the Morris Levy’s when he was part of Roulette Records, the Clive Davis’s when he was at Columbia Records in the 1970′s, the Neil Bogart’s of Casablanca Records fame of the 1970′s disco era, the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s, the David Smith (one of the Smith brothers from Sinclair Broadcast Group), the Perry Sock and the Nexstar Broadcasting Group, the Harry Pappas as part of the Pappas Telecasting Companies, the Bernard Madoff’s, the Enron’s, the Worldcom’s, the Adelphia’s, the Tyco’s, the Martha Stewart’s, the Jill Kelley’s, the Orie sister’s, the Teresa and Joe Giudice’s, and the Jesse Jackson Jr’s, of the 2000′s by letting broadcast greed get out of control so all of the head employees and bosses including Leslie Moonves at CBS to be able to enjoy carefree lavishly spending to support carefree lavishly lifestyles with luxurious homes, luxurious jets, luxurious cars, luxurious furs, luxurious jewelry, join luxurious clubs, go to luxurious hotels, go to luxurious casinos to do gambling, go to horse races, throw luxurious parties, and have other luxurious items just to make them very happy then trying and willingness to improve the quality of all the stations they owned and control and making the viewers happy as well. I hope and I wish that CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves get scolded by both by the ACA and the FCC for making the viewers being forced to deal with this blackout because they could not make a deal to get the stations back to it’s customers sooner and with a fair deal with Time Warner Cable. I hope and I wish that CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves is barred from continuance of ownership of it’s owned and operated stations and buying and owning anymore TV stations in the future after their final decision to remove the stations from Time Warner Cable. I feel that CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves are trying to bribe like the General Tire/RKO General of the 1960′s and 1970′s by not being very honest of not only the viewers by making them miss the shows on Time Warner Cable and also on themselves with the force of demanding Time Warner Cable to pay up in the retransmission consent to continue to carry the stations.

    I hope and I wish that the FCC would force CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves to allow Time Warner Cable to carry it’s stations without any interference, in the event CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves fails to allow Time Warner Cable to carry it’s stations again, then the FCC would force CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves to allow Time Warner Cable to import out of market stations that are very real close to the station being blacked out being affiliated with the same network, in the event CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves fails to allow Time Warner Cable to import out of market stations that are very real close to the station being blacked out being affiliated with the same network, then the FCC would allow Time Warner Cable to carry the out of market station with the same affiliation without any restrictions and also be allowed to continue to carry the out of market station that it’s digital television signal is reachable by a outdoor antenna including both it’s SD and HD feeds on the Time Warner Cable service system even after the dispute is over without any interference for 12 whole years to meet FCC rules and regulators.

    This is an excuse for CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves wanting to be too big being way too busy trying to act like the Baauer’s, the PSY’s, the Carly Rae Jepsen’s, the Tay Allyn’s, the Nicole Westbrook’s, the Rebecca Black’s, the Double Take’s, and the Guns N Roses Axl Rose as well as trying to be the Conrad Murray’s, the Jerry Sandusky’s as the assaulters, the Jodi Arias’s, the Casey Anthony’s, the Charles Starkweather’s, the Charles Manson’s, the Lyle and Erik Menendez’s, the O. J. Simpson’s, the Scott Peterson’s, and the Drew Peterson’s as the greedy murderers, the Alfonzo Dennard’s, the Jeremy Dobbe’s, the Jeffrey Ireland’s, the Amanda Bynes’s and the Lindsay Lohan’s as the drunk and the drug abusers, the Rodney Dangerfield’s, the John Belushi’s, and the Chris Farley’s as the comedians, (all real life people) the Gordon Gekko’s, the Victoria Grayson’s, the Victor Newman’s/the Jack Abbott’s, the J. R. Ewing’s/the Cliff Barnes’s, the Charles Montgomery Burn’s/ the Mayor Quimby’s, the Homer and Bart Simpson’s, the Peter Griffin’s, the Mickey Mouse’s/the Minnie Mouse’s, the Bugs Bunny’s/the Daffy Duck’s/the Porky Pig’s, the Garfield cat’s, the Cookie Monster’s, the Miss Piggy’s, and the Pillsbury Doughboy’s, (all fictional characters) of the broadcasting industry of not coming to reach a deal with Time Warner Cable to carry it’s stations to the viewers with Time Warner Cable everyday.

    This is an excuse for CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves trying to turn into the 1919 Chicago White Sox’s baseball team and the Southern Methodist University football team of the 1980′s to force Time Warner Cable to accept a take it or leave it deal to carry it’s stations. I urge all of the viewers with Time Warner Cable to boycott CBS and all of their head executives including Leslie Moonves right now for making the Time Warner Cable viewers suffer from being able to watch their favorite shows in a big huge ugly game of baw baw baw baw baw baw baw baw baw baw baw baw chicken.
    I encourage viewers to join me in the fight against retransmission consent dispute abuses at:

    I got the best idea to stop the Time Warner Cable-CBS dispute feud is to have Texas judge William Adams to come over to Time Warner Cable to scold both Glenn Britt and Robert Marcus and all of their big head colleagues over at Time Warner Cable headquarters in New York City, New York and CBS to scold all of their big head executives including Leslie Moonves over at it’s headquarters in New York City, New York by getting belted and whipped 369 straight times as well as forcing them all to take an adult version of the time out and sit on the adult time out chair for 369 straight hours and have David and Julie Ireland spying from their home computer at their residence to monitor what going on with the retransmission consent dispute between Glenn Britt and Robert Marcus with Time Warner Cable and CBS with Leslie Moonves with their big head executives as the official real true punishment for their failure to treat it’s TV viewers very fairly in carrying the stations to it’s TV viewers by not letting them watch their favorite shows and sports.

    I also encourage all Time Warner Cable customers to boycott all the big head executives at Time Warner Cable including Glenn Britt and Robert Marcus.

  4. It would seem that CBS ceo Les “Napoleon” Moonves (in a tip of the hat to the NCTA’s chief for that French moniker!) could really just end this all if he decided to take a cut from his OBSCENELY HIGH, GROSSLY OVER-INFLATED $60 million in typical annual pay + perks (still not counting another $22 million he made dumping 450,000 shares of CBS stock over the 4th of July holiday weekend) by just donating about two-thirds of his COMPENSATION for the $1.00 per subscriber increase he wants from Time Warner customers! It would mean that $3.5 million per-month or $42 million per year in additional “retransmission fees” from Time Warner Cable subscribers would still leave Mr. Moonves $18 million in pay plus potential bonuses annually!

    No, this is ALL about PURE UNADULTERATED GREED, because CBS is still making RECORD profits from ad sales, shameful product placements in its shows and a host of other ancillary domestic and international revenue streams (both first-run and on the “back-end”). This can all be traced back to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 when Congress and the FCC gave these MEDIA MONOPOLISTS the power to merge and consolidate — and it is all now manifesting itself in a Mega-Media Gluttons like CBS, Time Warner, News Corp.-21st Century Fox Entertainment Group, etc., etc.

    I know our lovely federal government LOVES monopolies and plutocracies (Big Media, Big Healthcare, Big Oil, Big Banking, etc., etc.), but when do they put a STOP to these criminally punitive business practices aimed at CONSUMERS? Somewhere even this $18 trillion-in-federal-debt government has to draw a line on GREED sometime in the near future — or risk a revolution??!! Idiots.

  5. Melody Weiss says:

    Thank you for your letter. I’ve been a TWC customer for about 20 years. I am so disgusted by their behavior that I am looking into changing my provider!!

    Stay classy, Les!

More TV News from Variety